As Time Goes By

Choreography: Twyla Tharp

Music: Joseph Haydn

Debut: Joffrey Ballet, 1973


Calling all Tharp fans! Please share your thoughts on “As Time Goes By” or Tharp’s work in general. This blogger has historically reserved her theatre-going for performances of classical ballets and is at a loss to express an informed opinion on more modern pieces such as Tharp’s. Several critics compare Tharp’s choreographic contributions to those of acclaimed, female, classical choreographer Bronislava Nijinska in their “tribal, primitive” expressiveness. Do you agree?

As Time Goes By, a somewhat early work of Tharp’s that she created for the Joffrey Ballet, blends classical and modern dance in new ways. The New Yorker critic Arlene Croce describes the piece as “a study of classical dancing…In much the same way [as Nijinska], Twyla Tharp is moving toward a new quality of plain speech in classical choreography.”

The piece is brief (only 15 minutes), abstract and plotless. Set to the third and fourth movements of Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 in F Sharp Minor, entitled “Farewell,” it begins as a solo and evolves into a larger ensemble piece with loose, complex groupings, entrances and exits. Mirroring the music, which diminishes from full orchestration down to just two violins, it concludes in there is a gradual elimination of dancers until only a single man remains. His solo continues as the curtain drops.

Croce concludes in her 1973 review that “As Time Goes By is not a pretentious enough ballet to make people feel that they have witnessed a heroic new undertaking in choreography,” but affirms that, despite the lack of “gloss,” “appeal for attention” and “careerism” in her work, Tharp was “the herald of a new age.”


Additional resources

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